Fruits - history, production, trade
The word fruit commonly indicates a category that includes many kind of vegetables that actually are not classified as fruits, such as for example pomaceous fruit: fruit is the result of the modification of the ovary after the fecundation of the plant.
There are many classifications of the types of fruit: usually fruit is divided in fresh fruit, nuts and canned fruit.
Fresh fruit is linked to the juicy, acidic and sugary products of plants, and usually includes yellow or green fruit: they provide high quantities of water and food fiber, helping hydration. Furthermore, fresh fruit contains a lot of minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium and copper.
Nuts include instead hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, that is the fruit where the edible part is inside a hard and non-edible shell: they provide a low quantity of water, while providing high quantities of fats.
In general fruit is composed of water for the 80-95%, and of carbohydrates for the 5-20%. In particular water content varies according to the fruit considered: it can vary from 20% in bananas to the 5% in melons, watermelons and strawberries. Other fruits have an average content of water around 10%.
Fruit contains also important mineral salts, proteins, few fats and a lot of fibre, and it is usually composed by around 2% of pectin and hemicellulose. The skin of fruit is the part that contains more fibres and vitamins, such as carotene, vitamin A, C and vitamins of the group B. An healthy diet must provide for an important consumption of fruit: it is suggested to eat at least 3 to 4 portions a day of fresh fruit possibly varying by consuming seasonal fruit produced locally.
Fruit has been classified also according the parameter of the edible flesh: it is divided in fleshy fruit (among which there are pears, apples, peaches, citron fruit and strawberries), floury fruit (such as for example chestnuts) and oily fresh fruit (such as walnuts, but also green olives). From a nutritive point of view these categories of fruit differ a lot for their calorie content: in fact, in fleshy fruit is of about 11kcall per 100g of products, while in floury fruit, for example, the calorie content is higher than in fresh fruit of about 40%.
Every season has its own early produce: in the Northern hemisphere, starting from January-February, we can find on our table oranges, clementines, mandarins, tangerines and grapefruit. In March there are lemons while in April and May with Spring we have strawberries, cherries, medlars, apricots, loquats, figs, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines plums, currant gooseberry etc. The hottest months provide varieties of fruit with high content of water and vitamins, while starting from September, we can taste pomegranates and prickly pears, and finally in October, November and December, there are persimmons, chestnuts, pears, apples, grapes and kiwifruit.
The production of fruit in the world increased in the last years more than 25%, going from 477 million tons of the first years of the twenty-first century to 600 million tons of today; Europe produces the 13% of the world production of fruit.
Italy, which is first in Europe, with 2% of the world fruit production (25% of the European total) ranks six in the world fruit production, with 34.2 million tons produced, after important producers, such as China, India, USA, Brazil and Turkey.
World fresh fruit is the main agro industrial product exported from Italy, which together with countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom and Spain, represents the most important market for the selling of fruit inside the European Union. The major importer of fruit worldwide seems to be Russia. Another important exporter of fruit in the world is China.
Fruit can be also divided in five categories according to its colour: for this reason there is red fruit, green fruit, white fruit, yellow fruit and violet fruit.
Red fruit includes watermelon, strawberries, cherries and red oranges, pomegranates, currant, raspberries and black cherries.
Among yellow fruit, rich in beta carotene and flavonoids, there are oranges, apricots, pineapples, tangerines, apples, peaches, mangos, pawpaw, yellow plums, lemons and melons.
White fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas and coconuts are usually linked to the reduction of strokes risk, thanks to the fact that they are rich in substances such as sulphur.
Among green fruit there are grapes, kiwifruit and limes: its colour is due to the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll, which plays a strong antioxidant action. Finally, among violet fruit there is currant, wild plumes, grapes and blackberries: this fruit is very rich in polyphenols, a substance that can prevent ageing and contrast neurological diseases such as AD and PD.
Nowadays there are many fruit and vegetable companies and agricultural entrepreneurs, working in the sector of fruit, fresh fruit, seasonal fruit, fresh vegetables and of products derived from the processing of fruits.
In particular, as mentioned above, the processing of fruit, the trade of fruit, the production of fruit and the selling of fruit are more and more profitable activities for the the fruit and vegetable sector: there are certified fruit and vegetable companies for the production of fruit and other fruit and vegetable products, that try to keep the best requirements for the cultivation of fruit, in order to obtain the very strict European certification.
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